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The Scottish debate

The Platform of the Minority Faction

International Socialist Movement (Scotland) 

[Editors note: 18 months after the Scottish Socialist Party was formed, and ten months after the discussion about the work of the CWI within the SSP began, and whilst the majority of the Scottish Socialist Party leadership were still part of the Committee for a Workers' International - the Scottish Socialist Party members listed below put their names to a declaration of a faction for the defence of the traditions and programme of the Committee for a Workers International. Those listed below declared themselves members of the International Socialist Movement (Scotland) minority faction, (the ISM), and were members of the Committee for a Workers International.]


Harvey Duke, Sinead Daly, Bruce Wallace, Philip Stott, Alan Manley, Mark Walker, Ronnie Stevenson, Rosie Adams, Sean Taylor, Eric Stevenson, Pam Cathro, Pamela Manley, Jim McFarlane, Andy Armstrong, Alison Hughes.

11 April 2000

"You shall not mix up the banners, let alone kneel before another banner," Leon Trotsky

1. The announcement of the formation of a faction within the Committee for a Workers’ International in Scotland - International Socialist Movement - comes almost 10 months after the start of a discussion about the work of the Committee for a Workers’ International within the Scottish Socialist Party. The documents and debates so far have exposed two main trends within the International Socialist Movement. Our faction stands in defence of the traditions and programme of our international. We describe the Scottish Socialist Party as a broad, non-revolutionary party which is moving, at the present time, in an even broader direction. Within such a formation - where significant reformist, nationalist and ultra-left ideas exist- it is essential that a revolutionary pole of attraction is built that can counter-pose our programme and methods to these and other tendencies within the Scottish Socialist Party.

2. The vast majority of comrades who have signed this platform were in favour of launching the Scottish Socialist Party. We saw this as a step that could advance the struggle for socialism in Scotland and at the same time provide us with new opportunities to build the Committee for a Workers’ International and win support for our Marxist programme. We thought this conception was shared by the whole leadership of the Committee for a Workers’ International in Scotland (SML). We see now that there was only agreement on paper. This has been indicated by the policy and methods adopted by the majority over the last 12 months. The road taken by the majority will dissolve the Committee for a Workers’ International in Scotland and wreck many years of consistent and sacrificing work in order to build a revolutionary party as part of new workers' International. The debate, which has became increasingly polarised inside the International Socialist Movement and its forerunner, has revealed that there are fundamental differences between us and the majority on: the programme, the need and the role of a revolutionary party, internationalism, and the character of the Scottish Socialist Party. This has led to the Committee for a Workers’ International not acting to intervene as a distinct revolutionary force with a common and agreed policy. In the hands of the Majority leadership the Committee for a Workers’ International has become a loose current. Therefore, we are left with no other choice than to form this faction in order to defend the programme and methods of Marxism and build the Committee for a Workers’ International in Scotland.

3. Our faction stands for:

• The building of a revolutionary organisation based on democratic centralism.

• A systematic intervention into the Scottish Socialist Party, at all levels, making our unique programme and party available to the Scottish Socialist Party membership.

• The systematic recruitment of new layers of the youth and workers into our ranks which can help train and educate a new generation of revolutionaries for the tasks ahead.

• The defence of our Marxist programme based on the experience of the international struggle of the working class and the revolutionary movement, and the analysis of the Committee for a Workers’ International.

• The building of the Scottish Socialist Party into a mass force that must be based on the recognition that without a revolutionary leadership and programme the Scottish Socialist Party will not be the vehicle through which the working class can achieve power in Scotland.

• The genuine participation in the work of our international with special links to our sister parties in England, Wales and Ireland

4. This abandonment of the fundamentals of a Marxist organisation by the Majority leadership flows from an incorrect understanding of the tasks facing genuine Marxists after the fall of Stalinism and the collapse of the former parties of the working class into the market ideology.

5. Our tasks are two-fold. On the one hand there is the need for our forces to assist in building new, mass parties of the working class based on an anti-capitalist/socialist programme, where the conditions exist to do this. On the other hand, while carrying out this task, we must continue to build our own independent revolutionary party within these new formations. There is clearly the danger that if you prioritise politically the building of, in our case, the Scottish Socialist Party over that of our own organisation it will lead to liquidationist tendencies and the merging of our organisation and programme with other elements in these broad parties. This is what has happened in Scotland.

6. This is having profound consequences for our work in Scotland and is increasingly leading to the complete abandonment of our historic programme; examples of which we saw at the recent Scottish Socialist Party conference. We believe, for example, that the position adopted on Ireland saw the merging of our programme with that of a reformist and republican ideology. This was done without discussion in front of the members either of the Scottish Socialist Party or the Committee for a Workers’ International. In other words it was an unprincipled compromise. On the economy and the approach to the Scottish Service Tax we see an increasing tendency to advocate a programme that serves to re-enforce reformist ideas within the Scottish Socialist Party i.e. the idea that significant and lasting reforms can be achieved within the framework of capitalism or on a Scottish basis alone. Despite the assertion of the Majority leadership to the contrary, the Scottish Socialist Party contains significant trends from left nationalist, reformist, and Stalinist traditions. Trends that the majority leadership are adapting to.

7. This is leading to the dissolving of what was once a powerful revolutionary party into the broader Scottish Socialist Party and the diluting of the programme. The abandonment of democratic centralism, the throwing away of our programme, the insistence that it is not necessary to build a distinct Marxist organisation all flow from the opportunist turn made by the leading comrades who see the Scottish Socialist Party and new parties like it as "all that we need in this period".

8. We always had the conception that the building of the Scottish Socialist Party could provide our organisation with a bigger platform to win new layers to the revolutionary party, and that, in the future, it may be possible to win the Scottish Socialist Party to a revolutionary position. Instead, while we have recruited a small, but important, number of youth in particular, they are not joining the type of organisation that existed in the past. In essence the revolutionary content of the Committee for a Workers’ International has been removed and replaced with nothing more than the shadow of what we once were, in effect a Marxist discussion circle.

9. There are however comrades in Scotland who do stand for a genuine revolutionary party within the Scottish Socialist Party. We are not just thinking here only of comrades who have formed this faction. Our aim is to convince through discussion and concrete experience the correctness of our position in contrast to the abandonment of our tradition by the majority leadership.

10. We appeal to the membership of the International Socialist Movement to consider this platform and join with our faction to help change the course upon which the majority have embarked. A course that will lead to the dissolving of our Marxist organisation in Scotland.





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